We take a look at the best new places to learn, grow, make friends, drink good coffee and eat cake – and do some crafting, of course.
While the internet provides a plethora of inspiration, there’s something special about hands-on, real life learning. It has the ability to truly enrich us on our crafting journey, adding a new level of fulfilment as well as providing inspirational gold.
Time to embrace the new workshop wave. Some of our favourite creatives are offering innovative new events and spaces to learn, explore and socialise. Joining them are a selection of our most beloved bricks and mortar stores: Liberty now offers sewing, knitting and crochet classes, Anthropologie hosts floral, stitching, corsage and tie-dye workshops, while West Elm has some coveted calligraphy, terrarium and cookery classes on their calendar. Today’s choice for top quality workshops – often with the inclusion of a lunch spread, or tea and an array of delicious cake – is abundant.
In March this year, photographer Emily Quinton moved her successful photography business, Makelight, into a new studio. Emily’s been running workshops both online and offline for five years, but felt ready to take the plunge.“It was always my intention to have a studio and it’s inspired me to think big,” she says.
“Many people take my courses to help them improve their photography as a hobby, often staying in touch via the community built up around Makelight, including photo walks, a private Facebook group and subscription. Helping them to not only take better photographs, but to also really see the world around them, is a dream.”
Sonia Bownes, founder of London Craft Club, teaches workshops in everything from quilting to paper art. “Most people who attend have full-time jobs and crazy schedules – they take my classes as a treat,” she tells us. “For that reason, I like the venues to be a bit glam.
“The social aspect is incredibly important. If people have made the effort to come out to an event, they should be made to feel welcome and have a lovely time. We have regulars who subscribe to the club and keep the atmosphere super-friendly. Many people also come on their own, too. I love seeing new friendships sparked over crafting. Otherwise, we might as well all stay at home and watch YouTube!”
Let’s get social
All exposed brick, rustic tables and soft sheepskin, recently opened The Forge, in Bristol, hosts an exciting range of inspiring workshops, dinners, talks and events with social learning at its focus. “We love bringing interesting and experienced people to The Forge to share their knowledge and skills,” says founder Silkie Lloyd.
Picking up on the relaxed social side to crafting, many studios are hosting informal, friendly making-focused get-togethers. During Craft and Chat at The Craft Studio in Nottingham, makers can browse books, finish projects and improve upon a new skill accompanied by unlimited tea and biscuits. Similarly, Sew Fabulous in Brighton, a not-for-profit community interest company, holds Saturday Sewing Socials, with equipment, expertise and flowing coffee from £5 an hour.
Meanwhile, small batch businesses have started opening up their worlds to the public. Amanda from skincare brand AS Apothecary teaches natural perfume-making classes on an organic farm in Sussex. And bloggers have branched out to offer lifestyle-based events, such as Hannah Bullivant of Seeds and Stitches who organises workshops throughout the country, often with a seasonal theme, such as posy making or dinner table styling.
The definition of a workshop is the meeting of people to discuss and perform practical work in a chosen subject. It’s the interaction between each person present that makes them seeds for growth and happiness. That’s where the joy comes from – that and really good cake, of course.
Words: Helen Martin
Feature image: Makelight Studio